Monday, August 31, 2009

Rosedale Rec moves to a new location

The Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) announced today that Rosedale Recreation Center (1701 Gales St NE) is moving operations to the old Gibbs Elementary School.   The address of the new site is 500 19th St NE.   The new site will open September 3; access to the recreation center will be though the E Street entrance of the Gibbs Elementary School building.   Hours of operation remain Monday - Friday, 9:00 am - 9:00 pm; and Saturday, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm.   The phone number for the center is (202) 213-5649.

Why the location change?   The city is rebuilding Rosedale.

Post expands education coverage

New from the Washington Post and Valerie Strauss is the blog "The Answer Sheet:   A School Survival Guide for Parents (And Everyone Else)."   Also new from the Post today is a revamped education page.   According to Valerie Strauss (on the live chat going on now), the new page offers the information and news people need to understand education, its politics, practices, successes, and challenges.   Jay Mathews, who blogs "Class Struggle:   What's Right and Wrong with our Schools", will be found on the updated page along with Valerie Strauss and her new blog.

Discuss Post's education coverage, 8/31, 10 am

Valerie Strauss, Washington Post Staff Writer will be online for a chat Monday, August 31 at 10:00 am to discuss the paper's education coverage and the upcoming school year.   You may submit questions before or during the discussion.   If you miss the live chat it will be archived so you can check it out at your convenience.

On Kojo today: Blogging in Ward 8

Guest host Marc Fisher will talk with Ward 8 bloggers David Garber (And Now, Anacostia), Susan Kennedy (Barry Farm (Re)Mixed), and Nikki Peele (Congress Heights On The Rise) about how they are using the internet to strengthen their communities.   The program starts at 12:06 pm on August 31; listen here.

Rules in the August 28 DC Register

The following emergency, proposed and final rules were published in the August 28, 2009 DC Register:
  • Final rules issued for Medicaid MHRS (see page 6991):   The Department of Health Care Finance published final rules to amend Title 29 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR), entitled "Medicaid Reimbursement For Mental Health Rehabilitative Services (MHRS)."   The purpose of these final rules is to (1) set forth the appropriate billing code for the MHRS service and reimbursement rate for Counseling (Individual Off-Site); and (2) increase the rate for CBI Level I (Multi-systemic therapy) services.   No comments were made to the emergency and proposed rules published in the DCR on July 10, 2009 and DHCF made no substantive changes to the emergency and proposed rules.   The rules are effective on the date of publication of this notice in the DC Register.
  • Inclusionary Zoning emergency rules published (see page 7120):   The Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development issued emergency rules on August 28 to amend the final rules dated May 19, 2009.   The changes were made to incorporate administrative comments determined to be necessary to fully implement the Inclusionary Zoning Program.   The emergency rules were effective August 14, 2009 and will be in effect for 120 days unless final rules substantially similar to the emergency ones are published before the expiration.   The Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development plans to adopt the emergency and proposed rules as final and will take action after 30 days of the August 28, 2009 publication.
  • DHS issues emergency rules for supportive housing (see page 7152):   The Department of Human Services (DHS) issued emergency and proposed rules in the August 28, 2009 DC Register related to the adoption of a new Chapter 25 of Title 29 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations, entitled "Shelter and Supportive Housing For Individuals and Families."   As emergency rules, the effective date was the date of publication.   Final rulemaking action will be taken within 15 days of City Council approval or the expiration of the City Council review period.

    The purpose of the new chapter is to establish rules to administer the city’s Shelter and Supportive Housing Program for individuals and families.   The rules apply to government operated and programs operated by private providers under contract or grant with the DC government.   The rules include a range of topics including eligibility criteria for shelter and supportive housing, family assessments, family case management, and provider standards.

Community College workforce training programs for adults

The Community College of UDC has just rolled out two adult training programs starting in September 2009, the Hospitality Industry Career Training Program and the Construction Pre-Apprenticeship Program.   These evening programs are possible through a partnership between the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education, the DC Students Construction Trades Foundation, the Washington Hospitality Foundation, and the Workforce Development Program of the DC Community College.

Both training programs are FREE to District residents and will lead to industry-recognized certificates in the high growth sectors of construction or hospitality.   Registration and enrollment are underway and screening tests will take place on September 1, 3, and 8.   More information is available by calling (202) 274-6999 or by visiting the DOES One Stops (on Franklin St NW or Naylor Rd SE) where individuals may take the initial screening tests.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Poor literacy effects 1 in 5 DC residents

Did you know that nearly one in five residents of the District of Columbia in 2003 aged 16 and older are estimated to have lacked basic prose literacy skills?   (Note, this is based on estimated population size of persons 16 years and older in households in 2003.)

This is according to the National Center for Education’s 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy, a nationally representative assessment of English literacy among American adults age 16 and older, and the attendant report Basic Reading Skills and the Literacy of the America's Least Literate Adults: Results from the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) Supplemental Studies.   This is the most recent national assessment.

Poor literacy is not a problem unto itself.   It is a cause and a result and is related to health care, finances and financial literacy, employment and training, the mortgage crisis, and the current recession.   Such was part of the C-Span discussion with Proliteracy CEO David Harvey last week.   Thanks are owed to Ben Merrion, Literacy Outreach Specialist in the Adult Literacy Resource Center of DC Public Library, for sharing the video of this segment.

About the specialty issue of health literacy and illiteracy, Harvey reported that poor understanding of physician instructions and medication labels among other health-related behaviors costs between $106 billion and estimated $236 billion each year.   Yes, billions, as was reported by the University of Connecticut’s 2007 report Low Health Literacy:   Implications for National Health Policy.   (Go Huskies!)

Susie's perspective:   So while we all go on our way to deal with the issues we work on every day, it is imperative we pay attention to literacy, particularly since adults just don't become illiterate on day.   They go through some school, progress from grade to grade and drop out, are pushed out, or graduate.   If we are to prevent adults from having poor literacy skills in the future, we need to better educate children now.

Friday, August 28, 2009

FY 2010 BSA committee report

The May 2009 committee report on the FY 2010 budget support act has been posted in LIMS.   Not sure if there is another committee report reflecting the BSA based on the revised budget.   If there is such a report, I will post a link.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

FOCUS has a new address

Friends of Choice in Urban Schools has a new home!   Their new address is 1436 U St NW, Suite 204, Washington, DC 20009.   Phone, fax and email remain the same:   Ph: 202-387-0405, Fax: 202-667-3798, Web: http://www.focusdc.org/.

Make recommendations for improved health outcomes

The Department of Health’s Community Health Administration (CHA) is seeking public comment on the city’s Preventive Health Services Block Grant (PHSBG) plan.   DOH is required by the federal government to hold an annual public hearing on city’s use of the federal funds and the 2009 hearing is being held on September 2 from 1:00 – 4:00 pm at DOH (825 North Capitol St NE, Room 4131).

Traditionally, the Department of Health has used this block grant funding to support government- and community-based programs focused on chronic diseases, primary care and access to health care.

According to the CDC, the funding is flexible so as to allow jurisdictions to design prevention and health promotion programs that will meet the needs of their residents.   This includes using the block grant to leverage other funds and resources to yield a greater impact.   That said, funded work must be aligned with the Healthy People 2010 national health goals.

Those interested in sharing their ideas about problems and solutions should register to testify by contacting Valerie Brown (202-442-9386 or valerie2 [DOT] brown [AT] dc [DOT] gov) by September 1 before 4:45 pm.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Public hearing on affordable housing

The Committee on Economic Development (CM K Brown, At-large, chair) is holding a public hearing on B18-304, "Affordable Housing For-Sale and Rental Distribution Amendment Act of 2009" on September 20 at 10:00 am in the JAWB's Council Chamber.   The bill was introduced on May 29 by Council Chair Gray on behalf of the mayor.

Paying attention to middle income DC residents

A new analysis from The Commonwealth Fund, Paying the Price: How Health Insurance Premiums Are Eating Up Middle-Class Incomes, reports that nationally, premiums for employer-based health insurance for families increased 119% between 1999 and 2008, 33% between 2003 and 2008.   In the District, the increase was 25%.

In 2007, the median annual income in DC for under age 65 households was $42,904. (page 22)   In 2008, average health insurance premiums were 16% of median income in the District. (page 3)   Given the recent increases and the trajectory of health care cost increases in the future, the issue of health insurance for middle income District residents becomes a public policy one, not just a personal one.

As employer-based health insurance premiums increase, or as employers raise the employee contributions, the expectation is that some middle income DC residents will be priced and therefore pushed out of the private system.   The good news for residents is that the District government has taken a progressive approach to health insurance going back to the federal authorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP, CHIP).   What this means is that families may enroll in public health insurance if their income is less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.   This program is known as DC Healthy Families.

Of course an increase in the number of families participating in DC Healthy Families costs the District government.   While the costs to the city are modest (the federal government bears the majority of the burden for the cost of DC Healthy Families services), the simple truth is that increased participation costs the city.

As the economic slowdown continues, it will be important for elected and appointed officials to pay close attention to the public rolls as well as changes being made to premium payments in the private sector.   This will help the city adjust resources appropriately.   But in the longer term, it will also help the city better understand the point at which residents can no longer afford premium sharing in employer-based health insurance system and opt out, potentially relying on public benefits.   Looking into this issue will also help the city to improve the effectiveness of outreach to middle income residents and ultimately keep or amend its current public health care approach.

One of the ways the DC government is going to learn more about health insurance coverage – public and private – is through an Urban Institute-implemented survey.

Monday, August 24, 2009

DC residents to be surveyed about health insurance

How many DC residents are uninsured?   How many are children?   How many residents in how many households have employer-based health insurance?

These are the kinds of questions the Department of Health Care Finance (DHCF) hopes to have answered with their health insurance survey so that the city improve health insurance coverage.   DHCF has contracted with Urban Institute to conduct the survey.

The survey participants will be chosen at random and therefore only some District residents will be selected to participate in the survey.   The ideal survey population will be a mix of people receiving public health insurance, i.e. Medicaid and Alliance, people receiving employer sponsored health insurance as well as those that are uninsured.

To ensure that residents participate when contacted, service providers, civic associations and community organizations are being encouraged to inform their clients about the survey so they are not put off by requests to participate.   More information in this flier.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

From the August 21 DC Register

Not too many child-, youth-, and family-related items in the latest DCR.   However, there were these important things:
  • UDC issues final rules regarding a tuition increase:   The rules amend the mandatory fees charged to students each semester.   UDC did not receive any public comments.
  • DCPS proposes rules house health services in schools (see page 6702):   The Chancellor of DC Public Schools proposes to amend Chapter 24 of Title 5 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR)
    to allow the Department of Health, the Department of Mental Health, and non-profit community-based health care providers to operate school health centers, to allow licensed providers in school health centers to dispense prescription and over-the-counter medications, and to clarify the role of school health centers in addressing the prevention of pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infections.

    Public comments should be submitted no later than 30 days after the publication date in the DCR.

  • Board of Social Work meeting schedule:   The Board of Social Work has changed its meeting schedule.   Starting on September 28, the Board will meet on the fourth Monday of each month.   More information is on page 6730 of the DCR.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Funding for gangs, crews and youth violence in FY 2010

You may have read the two documents in a prior post which detailed the changes made by the City Council to balance the FY 2010 budget.   The list of substantive changes included funding efforts to address gang and crew activity and violence via the Children and Youth Investment Trust Collaborative:
  • 7.   Add $2 million for competitive grants for community-based targeted gang street intervention and outreach, as recommended in "A Blueprint for Action: Responding to Gang, Crew, and Youth Violence in the District of Columbia".
  • 8.   Restore $320,000 in one-time funds to the Ward 5 anti-crime initiative

This information is incorrect.   The correct funding for this work, according to the council's budget office, is a total of $2 million, $1 million for the blueprint and the other $1 million for Ward 5.

Word is that some on the City Council and in the community are less than pleased with this distribution.   Ward 5 has experienced none of the youth violence it did during the summer of 2008 which of course is not a reason to disinvest.   But leaving Wards 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, and 8 to split $1 million while giving Ward 5 a whole million is not only unfair, but it treats a very real crime and societal problem inequitably and irresponsibly.   I am leaving this issue to elected officials and those on the street concerned about the issue to hash out.   I'm just saying that we should not be surprised if bad things happen everywhere but in Ward 3 and 5.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

DME gets new staffer

The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education has a new staffer:   Abby Bonder.   Abby recently moved to this DC government post from DC Action for Children.   As part of the ICSIC team, Abby is responsible for the implementation and sustainability of Life Skills and Second Step programs (substance abuse and violence prevention) in DCPS.   If you want to be in touch with Abby, here is how to reach her:
Abby Bonder, MSW
Program Analyst
Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education
1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Suite 303
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 727-2986 (direct)
E: abby [DOT] bonder [AT] dc [DOT] gov

Tutorial on the DC State Board of Education

So, turns out that referring to the DC State Board of Education (DCSBOE) as the Board of Education is confusing.   The DC State Board of Education has more and different responsibilities than the old Board of Education, yet people hear the name and equate the two.   To make things clearer, thanks to the DCSBOE, I am sharing the highlights of old and new.

The Public Education Reform Amendment Act of 2007 established the DC State Board of Education and conferred to the DCSBOE authority for:

  • Setting standards
  • Setting teacher licensing requirements
  • Setting graduation requirements
  • Addressing truancy by setting policies
  • Establishing home schooling regulations
  • Assessing the implementation of standards
  • Approving public policies for all public schools (DC Public Schools and DC Public Charter Schools)

The now obsolete Board of Education (BOE) used to be responsible for facilities management; directing parent, teacher, and school conflict resolution; day to day education interventions; and policy approval authority of DC Public Schools.

Much more information about the DC State Board of Education is online at their Web site.

YOU can make Life Pieces whole after vandals damaged space

You can restore hope to the young men participating in Life Pieces to Masterpieces.   As was reported on NBC4 earlier this week, vandals damaged the building, classrooms, supplies, and masterpieces.   As LPTM said,
The vandalism is a painful reminder of the forces that we are up against and those who wish to undermine the good work that we are doing.   It's also a vivid reminder of those that we have yet to reach in our community.

Staff, apprentices, volunteers, and others have been undoing the damage this week but the organization (which I have to say I have quite an affinity for) has needs that are beyond their means.

I am helping and asking you to do the same.   LPTM's Restoration Wish List is:

  • Paint:   Flat paint in primary colors to restore our walls and acrylic paint in primary colors for masterpiece restoration and creation as we head into a new academic year.
  • Cleaning Supplies:   Mops, cleaning solutions, paper towels and plastic gloves to use as we continue to clean up our building and prepare it for our new school year.
  • Technology:   Computers, phone systems, printers and television - all of which were severely damaged in the break-in.
  • Financial contributions:   Any financial support would be greatly appreciated.   Checks may be written out to "Life Pieces To Masterpieces" and mailed to our home office at Merritt Middle School 5002 Hayes St NE Washington, DC 20019.   To clearly mark your funds for this occasion, please write "restoration" in the memo line.   Pay Pal Donations may be made through The Catalogue For Philanthropy.

More on proposed truancy regulations

In November 2008, the State Superintendent of Education published proposed rules regarding truancy.   The purpose of the regulations was to develop a "state standard and protocol to address a student’s absence" from DC Public Schools and public charter schools.

The updated proposal would require local education agencies (LEAs; DCPS and each individual charter school) to

implement procedures for school based interventions developed in collaboration with parents, referrals to community based services or other agencies, including Child and Family Services Administration, Court Social Services, or the Office of the Attorney General, Juvenile Division, to address root causes for and reduce truant behavior, maximize student school attendance, and enhance a student’s academic progress. (p. 11917, emphasis added)

The truancy regulations are to be inserted into a new chapter A21 in Title 5 of the DCMR entitled "Compulsory Education and School Attendance."

The proposed truancy regulations are the sole agenda item for the State Board of Education's August 26 public meeting (5:30 pm at One Judiciary Square, 441 4th St NW, in the District of Columbia State Board of Education Chambers, located on the lobby level of the building).   The Board will vote on the truancy regs at the meeting.   The meeting will air live on DSTV Comcast Channel 99 and RCN Channel 18.

Over the past few years, the challenges of truancy have received increased attention in the city.   Truancy intervention was one of the central efforts of the intervention phase of Mayor Williams' effective youth development strategy.   The courts, too, have taken the issue on, implementing the Byer Truancy Diversion Program.   CM Tommy Wells upped the game a few years ago when, as a member of the school board, he advocated for a policy that would refer children with 10 or more unexcused absences to CFSA for educational neglect.

Residents, providers and advocates (education and particularly child welfare) interested in this issue should contact members of the school board prior to their meeting.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Charter school closes right before first day

Academia Bilingue de la Communidad (ABC) Public Charter School has decided to relinquish its charter effective August 30, 2009.   This means that students in grades 6 through 8 must find another school to attend.   The DC Charter School Board is helping transition ABC students to new schools.   More information on the ABC decision is online at the DC Public Charter School Board Web site.

There is no information about the closing of the school on the school's Web site.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Clark Ray announces pending announcement

Clark E. Ray, long-time local and national politico, has announced he will announce his run for City Council at an event on Saturday, September 12.   He will run for the At-large City Council seat currently held by Phil Mendelson.   Details about upcoming events, Clark's vision and more are online at www.clarkray4council.com.

How to invite the mayor to your event

Do you want the Mayor to attend an event your organization is holding?   The "how tos" of requesting the mayor's presence are online.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Next revenue estimate

The Office of the Chief Financial Officer reports that the next revenue estimate is due out in late September.

The up- and downsides of school supply giveaways

The Life Center Church and DC At-large CM Kwame Brown have certainly ratcheted up the back-to-school supply drive and giveaway.   This past weekend, CM Brown and church representatives gave away almost 5,000 book bags filled with school supplies in DC.   As was reported on WAMU and in a press release from CM Brown, so popular and valuable were the book bags that parents and children waited for hours in the heat only to clean them out in less than three hours.

Given that the cost of outfitting a fourth grader in DCPS is in the neighborhood of $80, more families than ever are relying on the generosity of others to outfit their children for school.   Those organizing supply drives are reporting good and bad news.   The good news is that Americans continue to be charitable.   The bad news is that more families require help.

CM Brown hopes to double the number of book bags and supplies that can be given away next year to 20,000.

Somehow this is backwards.   In my mind, slashing the number of backpacks and supplies should be the goal.   Fewer poor kids requiring supplies is a good thing.   Surely, the At-large CM understands the dissonance here.

So how do we reconcile the two divergent perspectives?   First, I think the CM would agree that it would be awesome if all children were properly outfitted for school.   That would mean that families were making more money.   And not just making $1 over the poverty line but making enough to put them solidly in the middle class.   Second, because Mr. Brown wants to reduce poverty, he is doing something about dealing with the issues of unemployment, underemployment and education.   A few of the things he has done lately to tackle the jobs and poverty issues long-term:

  • Authored the legislation to revitalize Phelps High School, which is now the only public architecture, engineering and construction high school in the country;
  • Secured $1.1 million in this year’s budget to provide nights and weekends job training for adult District residents at three District owned facilities including, Phelps, Cardozo, and Roosevelt;
  • Created and funded the Compliance Unit within the Office of the DC Auditor to ensure that developers’ promises to the community, including jobs for DC residents and affordable housing, are kept.   The unit will oversee projects like the Convention Center Hotel construction;
  • In March, sponsored and led for the second year nearly 100 District students for a bus trip to the College Round-Up in Tarboro, NC to help them apply for college with tuition fees waived, nearly all were accepted into at least one college.

Having checked out CM Kwame Brown’s record, I’ve concluded that it’s possible for people to deal with the short and longer terms at the same time.   Perhaps I have become accustomed to public policy and programs focusing on the short view.   While I still want to focus on the end game, and I would encourage more people to do that, there is plenty of need for both.

And to be clear, the end game is the eradication of poverty.   And that can only happen when there is a planned, sustained, and comprehensive approach to dealing with the causes and associated factors of poverty.

Calling leaders east of the river!

River East Emerging Leaders (r.e.e.l.) will rock young leaders again on Thursday, August 20 as they kick off their Sizzling Hot Summer Membership Drive.   The August 20 event is being held at Honfleur Gallery (1241 Good Hope Rd SE) starting at 6:30 pm and will feature live music, food and drink.   Mix and mingle with other young leaders and learn about what r.e.e.l. has been up to, where they are headed and how individuals can make history by becoming a founding member.

For those new to r.e.e.l., it is a progressive network created to enlighten, engage and empower the River East community.   r.e.e.l. membership offers the unique opportunity to help mold and shape the community while having a voice in a premiere organization dedicated to positive change.

Check out pictures and comments from previous r.e.e.l. mix and mingles at And Now, Anacostia and Congress Heights on the Rise.   Direct questions to rivereastemergingleaders [AT] gmail [DOT] com.

Will anti-gang legislation be revisited?

The Convention Center Community Association (CCCA) has taken on the issue of gangs by polling those who live near the Walter E. Washington Convention Center about their support for anti-gang legislation.   CCCA seems to favor anti-gang laws.

Mayor Fenty recently signed the "Omnibus Public Safety and Justice Emergency Amendment Act of 2009."   As introduced by the mayor, this legislation included some anti-gang provisions.   During City Council consideration, however, the provisions were stripped.   (More on the bill is available in an August 6 blog post.)

Ward 2 CM Evans (Council representative for the CCCA area), Ward 1 CM Graham, Ward 4 CM Bowser, and At-large CM Catania supported language which was designed to reduce the proliferation of gangs and gang violence and activity.   CM Evans proposed to stop gangs and gang members from engaging in activities which create a public nuisance.   There is a great deal of support for the anti-gang provisions put forth by the Ward 2 member across the city, just as there is opposition which was largely initiated by nonprofit advocates and service providers and which later gained traction on the council with members like Ward 5's Harry Thomas, Jr.

Because the omnibus was passed as an emergency, it will expire on November 4, 2009.   Public safety is, by all accounts, a major concern of the mayor.   Mayor Fenty is not likely to let this issue die with the expiration.   And while I had previously written that it is unclear whether the City Council has the stamina for another omnibus crime debate, the fact is that this issue (crime) is not going away and stamina or not, consideration may occur.

Update on budget legislation

B18-0413/A18-0184, "Second Fiscal Year 2009 Balanced Budget Request Amendment Act of 2009", the latest of the FY 2009 budget request acts, is now online.   The City Council's general counsel expects to enroll the FY 2010 budget request act by August 21.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Student discipline rules revised

The final discipline rules for DCPS students have been published in the August 14, 2009 DC Register.   The rules involve prevention, intervention, and remediation strategies in addition to disciplinary responses throughout the disciplinary process.   Details start on page 6375.

Final rules on dress codes/uniforms for DCPS

The Chancellor of DCPS issued final rules (page 6370) in the August 14 DCR to implement and enforce mandatory uniform policies and to establish rules governing the implementation and enforcement of such policies.   Some components of the regulations are:
  • Each public school is required to develop a dress code/uniform policy that is clearly defined and which furthers rational and legitimate school objectives.
  • Principals are required to implement the regulations starting with the 2009-2010 school year.
  • Schools with school uniforms are required to have a uniform bank so non-compliant students may borrow clothing for the day.
  • Schools with school uniforms are required to establish a mechanism to accommodate families and students who may require financial assistance in obtaining a uniform.
  • Students who are non-compliant because they require financial assistance in obtaining a uniform shall not be subject to corrective or disciplinary action.

Advocacy/events calendar updated

Be sure to check out the calendar at the very end of the blog.   Recently added include literacy event in late September, a health/mental health conference in October, and a training on September 11.

If your organization is offering trainings, forums, and the like, email the info to me and I will post on the calendar.

Friday, August 14, 2009

HealthCheck brochure

Again, you open your eyes and you see all kinds of things!

This time it is DC's HealthCheck brochure in English and Spanish.   HealthCheck is DC's EPSDT program.   In English, that means it is the program that details what screens, tests, exams are needed at what age for children and youth on Medicaid.   This is a handy little tool with some other good info as well, such as how to get in touch with DC's Early Intervention Program.

Solution-focused training, September 11

Want to better help your clients?   Then this training is for you:   "Solution-Focused Approach with Clients."   The solution-focused approach is one that centers on what the client wants to achieve, letting the past be the past, planning for the future.   The training is being held on September 11 and has a limited capacity so register today.   The trainer comes from Columbia Heights/Shaw Family Support Collaborative.

Updated immunization requirements

Ah, the things you learn when you open your eyes.   Today's find?   New Immunization Requirements for the 2009-2010 School Year!   In addition to this eye-catching flier is information about HPV.   Thanks to CFSA for sharing this information.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fear not Mary Titus

Kim Bell, long-time advocate for residents of her adopted city, recently shared the sad news that Mary Titus (Villedrouin) passed away.   Mary's family has planned the viewing and funeral:
  • Viewing:   Friday, August 14 from 5:00 - 9:00 pm at Dowd Funeral Parlor (165-20 Hillside Avenue, Queens NY)
  • Memorial service:   Saturday, August 15 at 10:30 am at Sacred Heart Church (115-58 222nd Street, Cambria Heights, Queens, NY)

Those wishing to send her family expressions of condolences may do so in care of her parents:

Dr. and Mrs. Titus
116-06 221st Street
Cambria Heights, NY 11411

The plans for the a DC celebration of life is still in development.   That information will be shared here as soon as it becomes available.

Mayor's changes to public access, connecting

Mayor Fenty campaigned as a man of the people, for the people.   The hole in the sole of his shoe was evidence.

Seems this strategy has run its course.   Or perhaps all it ever was designed to be was a campaign strategy.

The first public access element to fall was the public cabinet meeting in the community.   The idea was nixed after the first one was held in Ward 8 off of Stanton Rd. SE on a Saturday.   I remember the meeting clearly since I was on jury duty for two months and this was the only event with the mayor I could attend.   When I checked the schedule for other community-based, open cabinet meetings, I found none.   I asked key officials about it and they suggested I made it up.

Next to fall was Fenty File, the mayor’s newsletter.   There are 12 newsletters for each year 2007 and 2008.   In 2009 there has only been one newsletter, that in July.   Check it out for yourself.

And the most recent public access element to fall is the emailed schedule of the mayor.   It used to be that the mayor’s press office emailed the mayor’s schedule on a daily basis.   With no notice, the emails stopped.   I am told by one of DC’s leading journalists that the mayor’s press office refused to respond to emails asking why there were no more emails (I too experienced a lack of response from the mayor’s office about this question).   Seems that sending schedule updates by email was too taxing for press office staff.   After all, the schedule is online, said the Fenty staffer to the journalist.

Yes, it is true the schedule is online.   But how likely is it that the press and close administration followers will frequently check the Web site for updates?   The rest of us manage to blog, maintain Web sites, use Twitter, and even use email lists to communicate.   Why can’t the mayor’s staff?   It is not as though the technology is unavailable to them; OCTO is an executive branch agency, after all.   And it’s not that the mayor does not support technology – how many BlackBerries does AF have now?

Changing the way he communicates with the community is certainly the mayor's prerogative.   But notice is essential as is maintaining open lines of communication.   Change the method but please don't limit our access, Mr. Mayor.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Back-to-school immunization clinics

Thanks to SHAPPE, here is the list of immunization clinics and required documentation for young residents to get their shots before school starts.

Street Sense rocks the Web!

Thanks for DCist's Sommer Mathis for breaking the terrific news that Street Sense has a new Web site!

For followers of this DC-based "street newspaper" who virtually (ha) live online, this is just awesome news.   For those not familiar with Street Sense, the purpose of this newspaper is educate the community about homelessness and provide economic opportunities for people experiencing homelessness.   Street Sense features news, features, editorials, poems, and art about homelessness and poverty and other social issues.

A new look for DCPS online

Wow!   The new DCPS Web site and URL make quite the difference.   First to the new URL -- what a concept to make it consistent with the way DC government agencies (with a few exceptions) are known online:   abbreviation.dc.gov.

As for the new look and functionality, both are tremendous improvements.   According to the August 1 announcement, the site redesign reflects user (parent, teacher, students, community members) input over the past two years.   New features will roll out by the end of the year.

Remember that email addresses for DCPS staff use the DC gov format:   Firstname.Lastname@dc.gov.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Restricting youth access to tobacco on Council agenda

On July 31, CMs Mendelson (At-large) and Alexander (Ward 7) introduced B18-428, "Prohibition Against Selling Tobacco Products to Minors Amendment Act of 2009."   (See August 9 blog post.)

Comparing the bill to current legislation, the City Council is interested in restricting youth access to tobacco products.   A side-by-side comparison of the two, current and proposed, laws illustrates that some additional requirements are being placed on retailers and conditions on purchasing tobacco by individuals.   The proposal also tackles the issue of blunts, classifying them as "drug paraphernalia."

On the heels of the DC introduction, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced that tobacco sales to youth has reached historic lows under the federal Synar Amendment.   This amendment resulted in a federal/state partnership designed to end illegal tobacco sales to those under age 18.   According to the press release,
The Synar Amendment (introduced by the late Representative Mike Synar of Oklahoma) requires states to have laws and enforcement programs for prohibiting the sale and distribution of tobacco to persons under age 18.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have for the third year in a row achieved a major Synar program goal – a less than 20 percent non-compliance rate among tobacco product retailers.   This stands in sharp contrast with the situation 12 years ago at the Synar program’s inception when the highest reported non-compliance rate was 75 percent.

According to FFY 2008 Annual Synar Reports: State Compliance, DC's retailer violation rate was 15.7%, the same as Maryland's and higher than Virginia's at 9.7%.   Other states with high violation rates are Connecticut (14%), Indiana (14.7%), and Michigan (15.3%).   The reports states with the lowest rates and describes their exemplary and innovative work toward ending youth access to tobacco products. The overarching recommendation of the report is for states to institute comprehensive approaches including guaranteed funding.

The Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary (Mendelson, chair) will consider B18-428.   There is no indication, yet, as to what will happen with this bill, whether it will be changed, passed as introduced, or left to die in committee.

Recess closes Ward 6 constituent sites

From the office of Ward 6 CM Wells today is the notice that the H Street NE Community Office Hours and SW Community Office hours are in recess along with the Council for the month of August.   H St NE will recommence on September 25 and the SW office hours will restart on September 11.   Tawanna Shuford, Director of Constituent Services reports that notification will be sent out reminding Ward 6 residents of this services.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Connect with CM Thomas during recess

Ward 5 CM Harry Thomas, Jr. has launched "Councilmember on Your Corner", a way for the CM and the residents of the ward to remain in touch.   The kickoff for this initiative will be held on Thursday, August 13 in the Queens Chapel neighborhood.   From 5:00 - 7:00 pm, the CM and his staff will be at the intersection of Eastern and Michigan Aves NE to discuss issues and concerns with residents.

Future dates and neighborhood locations for "Councilmember on Your Corner" are:

  • Monday, August 17 - Brookland, 12th and Monroe Sts NE
  • Tuesday, August 18 - Bloomingdale, 1st St. and RI Ave NW
  • Wednesday, August 19 - Lamond Riggs, Lamond Riggs Library, 5401 South Dakota Ave NE
  • Thursday, August 20 - Langston Carver, location TBD

Each event will occur between 5:00 - 7:00 pm.

Direct questions to Victoria A. Leonard, (202) 727-8204 or vleonard [AT] dccouncil [DOT] us.

Marion Barry documentary premiers August 10

As reported by the Examiner's Bill Myers, "The Nine Lives of Marion Barry" will have it's national, public premier on HBO this evening at 9:00 pm.

Possibilities for kids in Res 13

According to this notice of final rulemaking from the Zoning Commission in the August 7, 2009 DC Register, there is a new zone district in the city, the "Hill East (HE) District."   This new district is in the former Federal Reservation 13, a 67-acre parcel previously unzoned.

The final rules state that the Master Plan’s general land use framework and vision for the redevelopment of Reservation 13 will incorporate public services and neighborhood needs.   On the public services side, the D.C. Jail will remain.   As for neighborhood needs, approximately 40 acres will be redeveloped.

Uses as a matter of right in this redevelopment include a number of important services for children, youth and families including:

  • Clinics
  • Public recreation and community centers
  • Public schools
  • A library
  • Child/elderly development center
  • Youth residential care homes, community residence facilities, or health care facilities of various sizes
  • Small emergency shelter facilities

The final rules became final in the August 7, 2009 DCR.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Kudos to the city's secretary

A big shout out to Stephanie D. Scott, Secretary of the District of Columbia, and her staff.   The cover page of the 8/7 DCR posted in the wee hours of August 7 had the text from the July 31 edition.   Everyone makes mistakes.   So why the shout out? The Office of the Secretary not only quickly fixed the mistake but get this -- they noted the updated date and time in two places on the August 7 DCR main page!   These update notices are essential.

Calling other agency directors and OCTO (the author of the DC government's online style guide):   Take a page out of the Secretary's book and make this a regular part of Web site updating.

OSSE proposed regs on attendance

In the August 7 edition of the DCR, OSSE issued proposed rules regarding school attendance and reporting requirements for education institutions.   The proposed rule creates a new chapter A21 in Title 5 of the DCMR entitled "Compulsory Education and School Attendance."

The proposed rules will also include a provision about truancy.   The truancy provision, however, is not included in the August 7 proposal; that proposal was published in the November 14, 2008 DCR.

OSSE will not take action on the proposed rules before September 7, 2009; comments from the public are due within 30 days of publication.

Is the Council tightening youth access to tobacco?

Councilmembers Phil Mendelson (At-large) and Yvette Alexander (Ward 7) recently introduced B18-428, "Prohibition Against Selling Tobacco Products to Minors Amendment Act of 2009."   It was referred to the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary (CM Mendelson, chair).   The bill is not yet in LIMS.   The introduction was noticed in the August 7, 2009 edition of the DC Register.

More on the legislation when it becomes available.

DDS public hearing, August 14

The Department on Disability Services (DDS) Rehab Services Administration (RSA) is holding a public hearing on the State Vocational Rehab Plan on August 14 from 1 – 4:00 pm.   The hearing will be held at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (600 5th St NW, 1st Floor Auditorium).

The plan affects vocational rehabilitation services for District residents with disabilities.   Details about commenting at the hearing are online (page 5559).   The plan is online at www.dds.dc.gov.

I apologize for not sharing this earlier; it was in the July 10 DCR and I had written the post, just never posted.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Now that the omnibus crime bill is signed, what can we expect?

As he signed the Omnibus Public Safety and Justice Emergency Amendment Act of 2009 into law on August 6, Mayor Adrian Fenty said,
Today marks an important step forward in fighting crime in the District of Columbia.   The Omnibus Public Safety and Justice Emergency Amendment Act of 2009 provides the District with tougher laws that increase penalties for violent crimes, allowing us to effectively send a message to criminals in an effort to deter potential crimes from even taking place.   The emergency bill I’ve signed today, will allow law enforcement officials to begin using these tools to combat crime in the District, especially in the summer months.   I greatly appreciate the Council's support on this crucial legislation, and look forward to continuing to work together to keep our neighborhoods safe.

The legislation was first introduced by the mayor in October 2008 and underwent significant review and public scrutiny.   Some of the more important child- and youth-related provisions:

  • Prohibition of unlawful firearms in vehicles:   The significance of this provision relates to drive-by shootings
  • Gang and Crew Intervention Joint Working Group:   This group is charged with developing a coordinated response to high-profile youth violence
  • Compulsion to testify against spouse or domestic partners in civil or criminal cases involving an offense against a child or minor (among other vulnerable populations)

Passed as an emergency, this law will expire on November 4, 2009 and there is not a permanent version of the bill under consideration by the City Council.   The law will expire before the deadline for the gang working group provision deadlines.   The temporary status begs the question about how the city will continue putting pressure on the criminal element in the long-term.   It does not seem possible that members of the council have the energy and stamina to withstand another public safety debate, particularly following on the heels of the protracted debate of the emergency, the revised budget, and the various issues plaguing the legislative and executive branches.

DC Jobs with Justice on Twitter

DC Jobs with Justice is now on Twitter!   Follow them by going to http://twitter.com/DCJwJ.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mayor to make remarks at HIV/AIDS event

Mayor Fenty is scheduled to give remarks at the August 5 DC Appleseed HIV/AIDS report card announcement at 3:45 pm at J’s Barber Shop, 3845 Pennsylvania Ave SE.   Schedule is subject to change.

Understanding the ROI of Social Media webinar

Brought to you by TechSoup, this webinar is being held on August 13 at 10:00 am Pacific.   The purpose is to help nonprofits show that new technology -- such as Twitter and Facebook -- is something worth the staff time invested.   You will learn about the impact nonprofits can expect to see from these tools, how it can be tracked, and how to adapt to get the most return on your investment.   More information and registration here.

Not sure about using media technology?

Old Nonprofits, Meet New Media is being held September 22 from 2:00 – 4:00 pm at One Judiciary Square, 441 Fourth St NW in Room 1117.   The workshop will focus on best practices for nonprofits using new media technology to raise funds and build awareness.   The event is sponsored by the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs; all community leaders, nonprofit professionals and interested parties are encouraged to attend.   More information is online.

Retta is back!

Youth have always been lucky to have Amoretta Morris in their corner.   And after a brief hiatus in Cambridge, Retta is back.   This time 'round, she is at DCPS as Director of Student Attendance in the Office of Youth Engagement.   In this new role Retta will manage the continuum of attendance-related issues from attendance data tracking and truancy intervention to the development of dropout prevention and recovery strategies.

Retta's new contact info is:

Amoretta Morris
Director, Student Attendance
District of Columbia Public Schools
825 North Capitol St NE, 7th Floor
Washington, DC 20002
p: 202.442.5450
f: 202.442.5523
e: amoretta [DOT] morris [AT] dc [DOT] gov

Monday, August 3, 2009

Advocacy/events calendar updated

Be sure to check out the calendar at the very end of the blog.   Events are added regularly.   Recently added include a meeting in Ward 8 on August 6, Busboys & Poets Book Talk with Dwayne Betts on August 10, and a wage theft forum on August 25.

If your organization is offering trainings, forums, and the like, email the info to me and I will post on the calendar.

Updated City Council schedule

The revision of the FY 2009 and FY 2010 budgets required the City Council to delay their summer recess.   But off they are now, August 1 - September 15.   On September 22 will be an additional Legislative Meeting and Committee of the Whole.   The July 17 revised City Council schedule is online.

Got grit?

A recently released analysis of the most recent findings from the Perry Preschool program in Michigan found that IQ alone does not account for the value of high quality early learning programs, in particular the Perry Preschool project.

Reported in the Boston Globe on August 2, University of Chicago professor and economist James J. Heckman found that grit and self-control, rather than IQ, are the more significant takeaways from this landmark early learning program and experiment.   While IQ improvements faded over time, the character traits associated with commitment, diligence and delayed gratification lasted over many years.

Perhaps this is why GEDs are not the same as a high school diploma.   Certainly, those who receive their GED have what is referred to as "book knowledge" the same as do those with a high school diploma.   The critical missing component, though, as Heckman – who by the way is also a Nobel Prize winner in economics – and others assert are the non-cognitive skills (e.g., grit).   According to Heckman,

GED recipients are the "wise guys" who cannot finish anything. They quit the jobs and marriages they start at much greater rates than ordinary high school graduates.   Most branches of the US military recognise this in their recruiting strategies.   Until the recent war in Iraq, the armed forces did not generally accept GED recipients because of their poor performance in the military.

So what’s the point?

The point is just this:   If we know from short- and long-term research and evaluation what works then we in the District should do it.   For the early years, we should ensure that all early learning programs are high quality and include components that are beneficial over time.   We should also do all we can to make sure that children and youth are engaged in school; in this way, we reduce the need for GED programs.   Perhaps, too, we can find ways to include "grit development" in current GED and other training programs.

Yes, the City Council and mayor just cut funding in the FY 2010 budget.   But what money we do have should be spent wisely – and that means on things that are proven to work.

The FY 2011 budget sked

Because the focus of everyone’s attention was balancing FYs 2009 and 2010, the FY 2011 budget has gotten a late start.   By this time under normal circumstances, the budget instructions had been drafted and were being reviewed, targets being developed, and the kickoff planned.

This year, the budget instruction development will begin shortly.   OBP is working on the instructions and finishing up FYs 2009 and 2010 simultaneously.   As it stands right now, the instructions will be delivered to agencies by mid-September.

No news on the delivery of the targets but they are less important this year in some ways since everyone knows that there will be no increases.

What remains of FY 2010 budget sked

This just in:   OBP is working with the City Council’s budget office to determine when the approved budget will be transmitted to Congress.   An intermediary step is for the BRA to wend its way to the mayor by August 12.   No news on when the final budget will be available to the public except that the BRA will be once transmitted to the mayor.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mayor Fenty on AHOD and NNO, August 3

Mayor Adrian Fenty is scheduled to give remarks on the most recent All Hands on Deck (AHOD) and National Night Out 2009 (August 4) on August 3 at 3:15 pm.   Join the mayor and others at 18th and M Sts, NE.   Schedule subject to change.

If you think this info is useful. . .

If you think this blog is informative then be sure to refer others.

OSSE hearings on special education

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education’s Department of Special Education is holding two public hearings on a number of proposed regulations and policies. The hearings will be:
  • August 18 from 5:00 – 8:00 pm at 441 4th St NW
  • August 20 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm at 51 N St NE

Details about the hearings are on page 6002 of the July 31, 2009 DC Register.   The public may testify at the hearings or submit statements.

UDC proposes to change tuition and fees policy

UDC intends to take action in not less than 14 days from the date of publication in the DC Register (July 31, 2009) on proposed rules to amend the mandatory fees charged each semester to every University student in order to provide for a per-credit fee for part time students.   See page 6074.

City Council's final FY 2010 decisions

Council Chair Vincent C. Gray explains decisions made by the City Council as part of the latest round of FY 2010 budget balancing actions by the District's elected officials in his July 31 in a press release.   The chairman also praised his colleagues for making tough decisions.

At-large CM Michael Brown’s press release on the budget vote highlighted the projects he supported, including undoing some of Mayor Fenty’s proposed TANF changes and adding back money to the child welfare system’s grandparent subsidy program.

Of course, there remains the issue about why this intensity to understand the budget, force efficiencies and thoroughly understand the details of programs and operations was not the case during the earlier process.   No question that the goals were different in the first process.   Nonetheless, it appears that members and their staffs got into the details since July 17 when Mayor Fenty presented his revised FY 2010 budget.   Will this intensity be the new norm?

Final rules in July 31 DC Register

  • Final rulemaking on background checks for health care professionals:   The Department of Health issued final rules in the July 31, 2009 DC Register regarding background checks for those in health occupations.   The final rules set out procedures by which health care professionals obtain criminal background checks.   The rules are effective upon publication.   See page 6025.
  • Final rules on protections for breastfeeding mothers:   The DC Office of Human Rights issued final rules in the July 31, 2009 DC Register regarding the rights of breastfeeding mothers under the protected category of sex or gender.   The Commission adopted this provision pursuant to a law on breastfeeding and protections in employment, housing, public accommodations, educational institutions, and DC government agencies; to provide guidance to employers, housing providers and others; to educate the public; to ensure breastfeeding mothers are treated with dignity; and to guide internal complaint processes.   The rules are effective upon publication.   See page 6029.
  • OSSE’s final rules on grades, promotion and graduation:   The final rules were issued in the July 31, 2009 DC Register.   They were approved by the State Board of Education on July 15, 2009 in "substantially" the same form as proposed.   The rule does not affect any other graduation requirements currently in place and applicable to students in the District of Columbia Public Schools and public charter schools.   The rules are effective upon publication.   See page 6049.